I'm one of those old-fashioned people who start counting 1... 2... 3... so there'll be no review of the first decade of the century this December. A shame, as even a cursory glance would remind us that at the turn of the Millennium our public internet service was a couple of Amstrads on dial-up at 50p a half-hour whereas now it's an easy gross of broadband-enabled PCs available for free and heavily used. Of course, had we relied on the wit and hard work, or any work at all, from our librarians we'd still be on dial-up. I try not to remind myself of this.
So let us consider 2009. We've had worse years. I, personally, have had much worse years. And other people have fared far, far worse than we. Even so, it will be nice to see the back of 2009. Or would be, if only we weren't dead sure that 2010 is going to be substantially worse, what with the budget crisis; the pay cuts; the vacancies freeze; the uncertainties about the management, or even ownership, of the service; and the unyielding promulgation of fresh hells from the body corporate. If it wasn't for the fact that the council's not accepting any more early retirements (on account of its reckoning that it can't afford to give people the necessary pay-offs) half its staff would be packing its bags right now. [Helminthdale Council still wants a substantial number of people to leave the payroll but doesn't want to pay for the wheels to be set in motion. A substantial amount of the 2010/11 budget may need to be going towards servicing defences against claims for constructive dismissal.]
Here in the Library Service it isn't business as usual. This, you would imagine, would be a good thing. Sadly not. We have been to too many funerals this year (one is too many to my mind, but we weren't that lucky) And otherwise, all is confusion. Or, if you're going to pick nits, all is even more confusion than usual.
The big news of the day is that T.Aldous has finally come out and said that he's retiring at the end of next month. We didn't think he'd be outlasting Mary by very long, and lo it comes to pass. In many ways this is a good thing: T.Aldous has been a diligent and hard-working chief but too often his hard work has been either counter-productive or else completely undermined by his irrational need not to be seen to be accountable for anything. The timing, typically of T.Aldous, is unfortunate. There is a lot going on corporately and regionally, not much of which will be to the advantage of either us or our customers. T.Aldous' departure adds a further element of uncertainty, which will be seized upon by somebody somewhere for their own ends. And we're still concerned about Policy Team's ability to up its game, even though we're seeing signs of their putting in the effort. Besides which, it's always useful to have T.Aldous there to act as the lightning rod in times of storm.
Next week, for the first time in years all of our libraries will actually be open. Except for Mattressbrook Library, which closed years ago but which we still supply with school holiday events for no apparent reason. That will be interesting. I wonder if we'll be able to keep the doors open for more than a week or two (yes, the staffing situation is that bad!) And if we do, I wonder if anyone will notice.
Ah well. Have a happy new year despite all else.